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Crafting Mobile Apps for Healthcare and Helping Others Grow with Catalin, Team Leader

Cătălin Prața discovered his passion for Mobile Development back in 2010. Later, he joined Fortech and started exploring the power and joy of peer learning. Furthermore, he discovered a myriad of opportunities for professional development. Ten years after, he’s a Mobile Team Leader and continues learning while helping others grow.

Get a glimpse #BehindTheCode. Read about Cătălin’s career journey, the Patient Management Tool he is currently working on, and the Fortech Mobile Community he is leading.

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? What are your studies, hobbies, passions?

From my childhood, I was the curious one. I always liked to craft something or open my toys to see what they were made of and understand how they worked.

In the 8th grade, I got my first PC and a friend of mine who was at a Computer Science high school introduced me to Pascal. He showed me a simple algorithm for solving the average sum of 2 numbers, and from that moment, my curiosity for programming was born. I started exploring this fascinating new world by buying a book about the Pascal language and building various small algorithms and programs. I also worked on building a simple game.

In college, my passion for technology evolved, and I worked on some small freelancing projects. In 2010, in the last year of study, I got hired at a small startup. We were building an IM application for Android and iOS. This was the moment when I decided that the mobile world is something I want to explore for the next years.

As for hobbies, besides crafting, I like to take trips in the woods and drive. I also like a lot playing video games, but I put it on hold for now. Whenever is possible, I try to engage my 5-year-old son George in these activities.

What do you do at Fortech? Please describe your career journey and your current role.

I started to work at Fortech in 2011 as a Junior Mobile Developer. At that time, I gained most of my knowledge related to software development and mobile apps development through work and self-study. At Fortech, I discovered the power and joy of peer learning. As I was surrounded by colleagues with more experience in software development than mine, I’ve learned a lot from them.

In my first years here, I worked on many small projects with tough deadlines. That challenged me to learn a lot of new things quickly and take various improvements from one project to another. Avoiding previous mistakes helped me greatly in this process.

After a few Android projects, I took the challenge to work on iOS and learned the similarities and differences between these two platforms. Over the years, I juggled between these two platforms and saw their evolution. In time, I took the responsibility to lead small and medium teams of mobile developers, whom I guided in their professional development. For me, it’s a great pleasure to help others grow and thus learn from them as well.

In my current role, I contribute to and build the architecture of mobile projects integrated with other systems. I also keep guiding colleagues who work with me, directly or indirectly.

You are one of the founders of the internal Mobile Community. Please tell us more about it.

“I always liked how the mobile team here at Fortech was glued. We constantly came up with various initiatives for improving our technical and social connections. For example, we organized daily tech quizzes and tech videos of the week. We gathered in Fun Room and watched technical videos. We kept a list of videos collected from the team members and picked one randomly for the presentation. At the end of the video, we debated the subject. We also organized small hackathons and exploration days.

That is how the Fortech Mobile Community was founded back in 2017. I enjoy being one of its founders and drivers and hope to keep the initiative alive for decades. I truly believe that you learn and sharpen your skills when you help someone broaden their knowledge. So, knowledge sharing is a win-win situation!

Cătălin at a hackathon organized by Fortech Mobile Community

Tell us a bit about the software project you are currently working on.

The project I am currently contributing to is a Patient Data Management Tool for the healthcare industry. The customer is a world leader in services and products for dialysis patients. We work closely with some colleagues from the client’s side to develop mobile (phones and tablets) and web applications used by nephrology medical staff in patient consultations.

The Fortech project team counts 18 members, including software developers, software testers, a Project Manager, and a Product Owner. As we are a dedicated product team, besides the technical contribution we have to the project, we help understand the needs of nephrologists and translate them into technical solutions. Digitalization in Healthcare gained ground in the last years, boosted by the pandemic. Therefore, last year we managed to rapidly adapt to changes and add new features to the project using Agile methodologies.

What’s the project’s tech stack like?

On the mobile side, we started with Java on Android and worked our way to Kotlin. On iOS, the project uses Swift. We use AzureDevops to manage our git workflow, peer reviews, automate project health checks, and builds for QA or production.

We use complex tables and some charts to display a multitude of important information about the patients’ health conditions, laboratory data, and other similar information.

We write unit tests on both platforms, and we run them each time we create a pull request to make sure we limit the number of potential issues that might escape. As an additional quality layer, we also write UI tests using Apium and Cucumber in Java.

What are your favorite things about this project?

Well, first of all, I like the people I work with. 😊 I also like the fact that we have a decent amount of freedom to experiment with new technologies that can help us keep the project cleaner and move better in the long run. For example, we could focus on getting to Kotlin on the Android project and using other technologies like ViewBinding to ease a bit the way we build the UI.

We also managed to update the UI automated tests from 2 Apium projects into one that knows how to test both Android and iOS efficiently.

What’s the most challenging thing about this project?

The challenge is to add features while keeping the code base as clean as possible (managing tech debt). Achieving this is far from easy, since some of the changes we make alter components that were once used in multiple places but now get increasingly specific based on various scenarios.

Furthermore, one of the challenges in medium-large projects is keeping pace with the constant tech stack changes in the industry – changes in the SDKs, tools, or programming languages.

Tell us more about your team and the team rituals you have.

Since the pandemic and working from home, we gather online every other Friday for about one hour. We play some social games or talk about ourselves: where we want to go on vacations, where we went or what we like or dislike. I think that’s a cool thing that has changed positively since the pandemic. In the pre-COVID-19 times, we had a small ritual – each day in the morning and the afternoon, we took some time for coffee. The entire Mobile team and some other colleagues were welcome to join. These informal gatherings were a great way to check each other and bond.

We currently hold a “Get together” online meeting each month with the Mobile Community members who want to chat and play social games after work.

What’s next in your career journey?

I would like to focus more on the technical side of things, spend more time learning and practicing as much as possible.

What advice would you give to someone interested in joining Fortech?

I think that here at Fortech you can find great colleagues and projects for most of your needs. So, you should definitely consider applying for a job here, especially on Mobile 😛!

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